Category Archives: History with Pauline

Publication: Chained to the prison gates

Pauline Campbell - Campaignerby: The Economic Voice published: 6 November 2013 Chained To The Prison Gates: A new perspective on protests by campaigners Pauline Campbell and Violet Van der Elst. Two women who campaigned tirelessly for penal reform after enduring personal tragedy are the subject of an enlightening new report published by the Howard League for Penal Reform.

The study offers a new perspective on protests by Pauline Campbell and Violet Van der Elst – two women, divided by decades, who demonstrated outside prisons to raise awareness of injustice within the penal system.

Chained To The Prison Gates, written by Laura Topham, reveals how the women’s demonstrations attracted national media attention but came at huge personal cost, leading to criminal proceedings, illness, misery and financial ruin. Drawing on interviews with politicians, criminologists and leading penal reformers, the report also analyses the two campaigns in detail, exploring their use of direct action and assessing their impact and effectiveness.

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Pauline Speaks

Addressing the Annual London Rally
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Pauline had been a tireless campaigner against the deaths of women in prison and psychiatric custody ever since the tragic death of her own daughter, Sarah, in 2003.
video courtesy of Ken Fero

Pauline’s Story


Introduction: Tippa Naphtali
4WardEver Campaign

The following article was originally put together as a tribute to Pauline Campbell in March 2006, to be featured on the 4WardEver Campaign website.

The following was written by Pauline at our request, and we were honoured to give this strong and courageous woman a platform to share her views, and encourage others to become active.

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Listen to the BBC Women’s Hour interview >
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Pauline Campbell
Trustee of the Howard League for Penal Reform
Awarded the 2005 Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize

My 18-year-old daughter, Sarah, died while on ‘suicide watch’ in the so-called care of HMP and YOI Styal, Cheshire, in January 2003. She experienced Styal’s brutal regime for just 24 hours before dying of prescription anti-depressant drug poisoning.

Strip searched twice on arrival at the jail, she was taken to the segregation (punishment) block, and isolated, with sensory deprivation (i.e. no television, no radio, and no-one to talk to).

Despite knowing that she had ingested an overdose, prison staff (including a nurse) walked out of the cell, locked the door, and left her alone. She vomited blood and vomit while alone in the cell. There was a delay of 40 minutes before an ambulance was summoned. On arrival at the prison gates, it was held up for eight minutes before being allowed in.

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